Morocco: Racist Attacks in Boukhalef

… totalitarianism makes people superfluous as human beings.

Hannah Arendt

Originally posted on No Borders Morocco.

The violence in Boukhalef, a quarter of Tangier in the North of Morocco, has reached a new dimension. Friday night, the 29th of August, a racist group armed with knives and bats attacked migrants and killed at least one person – a Senegalese – by cutting his throat with a knife, several others were badly injured and were brought to a hospital. Some of them are still in critical conditions. People talk about up to 3 more deaths which is not yet confirmed.

This is not the first time this summer that a larger group of Moroccans attacks migrants. In the night on the 20th of June an apartment of migrants was attacked after migrants were arguing with the landlord. Fire was set inside of the apartment and several people were injured after a fight. On the 15th of August, only two weeks ago, migrants and a Spanish human rights activist were attacked when they were coming home from an African Festival in the city center. Women were harassed sexually. The police denied stopping the aggressors but let them continue and was even making threatening jokes towards the victims.

This Saturday after the killing, migrants gathered to do a demonstration and carry the body of the dead Senegalese into to city center to protest against this insupportable violence and to demand “liberty” and “human rights”. But they were violently stopped by the police. People reported police officers beating up migrants while Moroccans could attack migrants without being stopped by the police. Many people were injured and needed to be hospitalized (so far, we don’t have clear numbers).
In all three events aggressors could attack migrants, shouting racist slogans without the intervention of the police. Witnesses report that there were not only racist mobs acting but organized groups with leaders. Migrants talk about a raising racist and threatening climate in the quarter. They are afraid of leaving their homes. One migrant present at the events said: „It seems that they want to chase away all of us and at the same time the Moroccan government prevents us from leaving. We cannot suffer this any longer. The world has to do something.“

Since Saturday evening the situation as calmed down a bit with a huge police presence everywhere in the streets.

No Borders Morocco, part of the larger activist network, noborder network, works with migrants to contest the politics of borders … which is to say, the politics of State and Capital.  Below follows a statement about their politics.

What is No Borders Morocco?

We are a part of the international network of activists known us No Borders. This network has no central leadership or membership structure so anyone who is committed to the right of all people to freely cross borders, direct action against border controls and practical solidarity with undocumented migrants can consider themselves one of us.

Because the network started in Europe we have generally focused on the European Union’s common immigration strategy of documentation, surveillance, racial profiling, police brutality, forced deportations and the creation of a network of prisons around to put migrants in while the authorities are waiting to decide what to do with them.

As normal people with the capacity for empathy we are opposed to all of these measures taken against our fellow human beings by inhuman State structures. These institutions appear to us to work only in the interest of the capitalist ruling class by politically dividing the rest of us along racial lines and driving down average wages by keeping undocumented migrants as a hyper-exploited, politically repressed underclass with no workers’ rights.

In 2012 a small group of No Borders activists began to investigate the European Unions’ “Barcelona Process” by which the EU pays neighbouring non-EU States to violently harass migrants passing through them on their way to Europe and to prevent them entering EU territory by any means. This policy means Arab states with already bad international reputations are doing the EU’s dirty work, allowing European states to look more democratic by comparison.

This brought us to Morocco, the State receiving the most money through the Barcelona process, as it is physically the closest African country to the EU territory, having two actual land borders at the Spanish “enclaves” of Ceuta and Melilla, as well as an extremely small sea crossing to mainland Spain at the Straits of Gibraltar. See the section “Basic Info on the Spanish-Moroccan Border” for further details.

The Moroccan State brutally abuses the rights of migrants to help it’s neo-colonial paymasters at the EU in ways which regularly lead to migrants’ deaths. We are committed to exposing these atrocities and the EU’s complicity in them as well as acting in direct practical solidarity with migrants in their attempts to survive this repression and cross the border to Europe.

We have a particular focus on the situation of “transit migrants” – people who are from countries other than Morocco and who are only in the country in order to cross through to Europe. This is because transit migrants not only face oppression from Spanish and Moroccan border guards in the act of attempting to cross the land or sea borders between Spain and Morocco, but also face severe oppression during the time they spend in Morocco itself.

This is partly due to a pervasive culture of racism in Moroccan society, as most transit migrants are Black Africans whose physical appearance is very different from that of most Moroccans. However the oppression of Black and other transit migrants in Morocco is mainly due to the policies of the Moroccan government against them.
Moroccan police constantly harass people they suspect of being migrants through raids and street checks of their identity documents. Those found without the right paperwork are routinely detained in inhumane conditions by Moroccan police and often tortured or otherwise abused. Detained migrants are also regularly transported to the Algerian border near the Moroccan city of Oujda and simply dumped there in the desert without food or water.

All of these atrocious actions carried out by the Moroccan State against transit migrants are fully funded by the European Union under the various agreements of the Barcelona process. The European Union is therefore complicit in these human rights abuses, which are so widespread that EU officials cannot credibly claim to be unaware of them.

The following film, Number 9 – Stop the violence at the Borders is part of “a campaign to denounce the daily and systematic repression of migrants by Moroccan authorities as well as the implication of Spanish authorities in the crimes perpetrated against migrants at the borders of Melilla; to call for the end of violence and violations of human rights in the north of Morocco; and to demand an official investigation into the circumstances of the death of Clément and the other migrants deceased in the surroundings of the enclaves.”

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